I recently had the pleasure of seeing two of Peter Weir’s beautiful early films. Weir is an Australian director best known for “Dead Poet’s Society” and “The Truman Show”. His film “The Last Wave” is an apocalyptic thriller involving aboriginal lore which I caught on the recent winter solstice. That film didn’t grab my interest until halfway through but I loved its finale. “The Last Wave” prompted me to watch “Picnic at Hanging Garden”, an earlier and more influential film of Weir’s. I was lured in by the visually stunning images from the cover and booklet art. I was pleasantly surprised to find the film to be an exploration of the Venusian mysteries.
Picnic at Hanging Rock
The main events of the film take place on Valentine’s day. It starts with beautiful young girls in white flowing and lacy outfits preparing at the college. There are valentines, poetry, romantic intrigue between two of the girls, and numerous objects of beauty. Most of them go on a trip to a million year old volcanic formation called Hanging Rock. Their mannerisms and speech brim with feminine mystery, intriguing two boys picnicking nearby.
The rock also radiates mystery. The rock causes the watch to stop of one of their head mistresses. She believes it is due to magnetic disturbance. Another lady is glancing at a book of Botticelli paintings opened to Venus. She says something strange about the main figure of intrigue, Miranda, calling her a “Botticelli angel”. Three girls follow Miranda up and up the rock. Eventually, three of the four girls are barefoot climbing higher, unresponsive to the pleads of the heavy unattractive girl, who freaks out and runs down from the rock.
An Incommensurable Mystery
That is where the mystery truly begins. The girls in some sort of sexual excitement trot up the rock and truly disappear. I would rather not give away all the plot points, but needless to say there are other points of contact with Venus and much to be appreciated in this film. The beauty, sensuality, romanticism, mystery, and incommensurability showcased in the film all lead me to conclude that it is one of the most Venusian pieces of cinema ever made. Those looking for a taste of the essence of Venus, look no further than “Picnic at Hanging Rock” and its Venusian savior, Miranda.
Featured image (cropped) is the painting At the Hanging Rock Mt. Macedon by William Ford (1875) which is in the public domain.